How Are Anatomy & Physiology Related?


Anatomy and physiology are two of the several sciences necessary for a complete understanding of the human body and how it functions. How each relates to and affects the other contributes to a complete understanding of how the human body works.

What is Anatomy?

Anatomy, as defined by Gray’s Anatomy, “comprises a consideration of the various structures which make up the human organism.” In plainer language, it is the study of the various parts of organisms, such as the human body. Anatomy is also the study of how the various parts of the body interact and work together. This can be divided into two main areas: gross anatomy, or what can be seen by the naked eye, and microscopic anatomy, which relates to the study of tissues of the organism. In addition to visual, there are three other methods by which anatomy is studied: palpation, which is physical contact; listening, such as when a doctor listens to your breathing; and percussion, such as when a doctor taps on your chest. Medical devices such as CT scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and dissection can also be used to assist in the study of anatomy.

What is Physiology?

Physiology is defined by as the study of how living organisms function. This definition includes nutrition, movement and reproduction. That means studying how living things, including humans, do what they do. Often, it involves how systems of the body interact, such as how the muscular system interacts with the skeletal system to produce movement.

How Are They Related?

It is impossible to completely understand the physiology of an organism such as the human body without developing a complete understanding of the anatomy of the organism and its’ various parts. For example, you cannot understand how the lungs extract oxygen from the air we breathe without understanding that the lung is made up of a bronchial tree and alveoli, which allow for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Levels of Anatomy and Physiology

The study of anatomy and physiology requires some understanding of the hierarchy of structures. For example, the body is comprised of several interdependent systems. Each of these individual systems is made up of organs. Each of those organs is comprised of specialized tissue. Tissue is made up of cells, which are made up of organelles, molecules and atoms.

Who Needs To Know Anatomy & Physiology?

Anyone who works in the medical field needs an understanding of anatomy and physiology, although how in-depth that knowledge needs to be depends on the field the person is in. For example, medical doctors need intimate, detailed knowledge of the human body, while physical therapists do not need that level of detail.

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